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Federal weapons charges filed against Monson

WILLMAR — Federal weapons charges have been filed against a Willmar man who had been set to face a jury trial on similar charges later this month in Kandiyohi County.

Chad Monson, 46, made an initial appearance Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in St. Paul on 18 federal charges, including possession of machine guns, possession of machine guns with obliterated serial numbers, possession of unregistered destructive devices described as pipe bombs and possession of unregistered silencers.

The weapons were allegedly seized during searches of Monson's property last winter.

Monson, who had been held in the Kandiyohi County Jail on $500,000 bail until Tuesday morning, is now being held in federal prison.

He's scheduled to make another appearance at 12:30 p.m. Friday for a detention hearing, according to Monson's attorney, Dan Mohs.

Monson also faces a total of 24 weapons and drug-related charges filed in Kandiyohi County that stem from a search Jan. 30 at his rural residential property and a search Feb. 21 of his business property.

Along with the weapons, methamphetamine was also seized as part of the search and resulted in felony and petty misdemeanor drug charges.

A jury trial had been set to begin June 25 at the Kandiyohi County Courthouse in Willmar.

But, according to Mohs, the jury trial in Kandiyohi County is on hold as the case shifts to the federal level.

He said it's likely the federal government will handle the weapons charges and the drug charges will be handled in Kandiyohi County.

In a brief statement, Kandiyohi County Attorney Shane Baker said he is "reviewing the effect the federal indictment has on the state case."

Although the trial in Kandiyohi County has "not been taken off the calendar yet," Baker said he anticipates it will be because of the federal indictment against Monson.

The federal case does not address the drug charges, said Baker, adding that he cannot discuss "particular details or plans about the case at this time."

Mohs said the federal weapons charges filed against his client are "significant."

"This is like going from minor league baseball to major league baseball," said Mohs. "Everything's different now," he said, adding that the federal case will "move much more quickly."

Given the items seized during the searches and that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was involved, Mohs said he wasn't surprised by the federal charges.

According to the federal indictment, Monson is charged with knowingly possessing 10 machine guns, two machine guns that had serial numbers obliterated and three pipe bombs and three silencers that were not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

Mohs said it's possible additional charges, or an additional list of weapons, could be added to the federal indictment.

He said he anticipates working with prosecutors to reach a plea agreement, but if an agreement isn't reached the case could head to trial by this fall.

Last month, during a hearing at the Kandiyohi County Courthouse, Mohs had asked District Court Judge David Mennis to consolidate the two separate state cases relating to the January search and the February search of Monson's properties.

In a decision dated June 2, Mennis agreed with Mohs to combine the separate cases into one consolidated case, but denied his request to dismiss two charges dealing with possession of explosive devices.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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